As we talked about yesterday, this week is shaping up to be similar to last weeks tilt. It starts with a home game against a team around .500 and ends up with a crucial and difficult road game. And by 3:00pm on Saturday, the Hoos will wrap up the first half of the ACC season, either solid at 6-2, okay at 5-3, or ‘meh’ at 4-4. Now the Noles will be a challenge, so securing another home win against a somewhat down team will is as close to a must as all possible. So what should we expect from the Clemson Tigers on Tuesday? Let’s get to the preview.
The Tigers are currently 11-9 and 3-3 in the ACC. They have had plenty of rest the last two weeks, holding of GT at home 64-62 last weekend, and pacing Wake this weekend at home 71-60. They played a very under impressive non-conference slate (even worse than ours) and went 8-6. They lost to College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, UTEP, and Hawaii all are ‘bad losses’ with the lost to Arizona being one that is not that shocking. The lone key NC win would be against at Iowa in the ACC/BG10 tourney, but nothing exciting. In conference, they lost to BC, Duke, and Miami, while beating GT, Wake, and FSU, before the Noles figured out they could win. Clemson is the prime example of the dichotomy in the ACC, and trying to figure out when and where they will win is a massive question mark.
It is a team that plays and scores just as low as we do, and the stats reflect that. Senior Guards Andre Young and Tanner Smith with junior big men Devin Booker and Milton Jennings (suspended for game) make up the nucleus of their scoring attack. Outside of that, keep your eye on freshmen guards T.J. Sapp and Rod Hall. Sapp is a glue guy and Hall is shooting 80% from 3 on 24 for 42 attempts and both provide needed depth off the bench. Look for them to go at least 8 deep, with players like C Catalin Baciu and F Bernard Sullivan to get some valuable time against the thin UVa front court.
The one advantage that every team has been able to exploit early has been the inside. What the Hoos have countered with has been the the ability to close down the lane as the game goes along and turn teams into jump shooting teams, playing into Virginia’s hands. The difference between Clemson and NC State is they are not as physical down low, but they are a stronger shooting team. This mean that if they can’t get established down low (which we find hard to believe since BC was able to), they can lean on their guards. In addition, they have some depth inside, so even if we are able to get guys like Booker and Jennings out of the game, they will be able to produce bodies off the bench to contribute on the defensive end. In the State game, after Howell and Leslie got in trouble, they did not have much of a defensive presence.
There shouldn’t be a problem about pace. Clemson scores in the mid 60s (65.1 to be exact) so that plays right into the Hoos pace. They are also the 2nd best defensive team at just under 60 points per game, behind the Hoos, and also like to run back on defense and play in their set. If this game gets to 20 points a piece at halftime, I’ll be shocked. Not really, but look for another game in the mid 50s to low 60s at beast. If Sammy has truly found his stroke, it should be all Cavs, all game. If not, look for more of the Miami or NC State heartburn.